(Video) PHT Extra: Thriving sans Lundqvist, are the Rangers the team to beat in the East?

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The Rangers are 11-2-3 since Henrik Lundqvist went down to a vascular injury, can move within one point of the Metropolitan Division lead with a regulation win tonight and have two games in hand on the Habs, three on the Bolts and four on the Isles.

All of which begs the question: Are the Rangers the team to beat in the East?

 

Brassard scores lone goal as Rangers blank Blackhawks

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A game between the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers seemed like it had the potential to be full of fireworks, but it was instead largely a goalies’ duel. Maybe it makes sense that it was ended by Derick Brassard – a guy who’s had troubling scoring goals – then.

Brassard’s 14th goal of 2014-15 (and his first in 15 games) ended up being Sunday’s only tally, as it was the 1-0 overtime-clincher.

Cam Talbot stopped all 29 shots he faced for his fifth shutout of 2014-15 while Corey Crawford may have been even more impressive, making 35 out of 36 saves. This was quite the spree by Crawford, in particular:

Talbot will rightfully get the headlines for this one, and he deserves them. Talbot has 10 wins and two shutouts in the 15 games he’s played since Henrik Lundqvist went down with what seemed like a troubling injury for the Rangers.

There were some positives for Chicago – Teuvo Teravainen almost looked like Patrick Kane at times wearing No. 86 – but the power play is far from a source of optimism:

As Kenny Albert noted during the NBCSN telecast, this was the first time the Rangers shut out the Blackhawks since 1969. It might not have been the prettiest win, yet it’s the sort that can empower a Rangers squad that looks more and more like it can stick with the NHL’s best … even out West.

WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers probably rank as the two teams that came the closest to wrestling the Stanley Cup from the Los Angeles Kings last season. They look strong (yet different) in 2014-15, too, so this should be a delicious taste of what may come if things go well for each squad in the postseason.

Even with Patrick Kane and Henrik Lundqvist on the shelf, there’s plenty of star power on both sides, so expect an exciting game. You can watch the action on NBCSN and also by streaming it via NBC Sports Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Check out the preview here.

NHL on NBCSN: The Blackhawks look to extend their win streak to three games

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Chicago Blackhawks host the New York Rangers at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The New York Rangers will look for a third straight win over the Chicago Blackhawks, and first this season, when the two teams meet for the first time in 2014-15 tonight at the United Center.

It’s the first of two meetings between the two clubs in a 10-day stretch.

Chicago is 4-5-1 in the last 10 in the series with New York.

With Henrik Lundqvist sidelined, Cam Talbot is 9-2-3 with a 2.61 goals-against average and New York is 10-2-3.

The Rangers (39-17-7) are three points back of the Islanders for the Metropolitan Division lead and have four games in hand.

Tonight will be the first game in Chicago for Blackhawks draft pick Kevin Hayes, who signed with the Rangers as a free agent last summer.

Chicago (39-21-5) looks for a third straight win in nearly three months. The Blackhawks last won three straight as part of an eight-game winning streak Nov. 26-Dec. 11.

The Blackhawks trail the St. Louis Blues by four points for second spot in the Central Division while maintaining a four-point lead on fourth place Minnesota.

Corey Crawford gets the start in net for Chicago.

Tonight is the second of a five-game road trip for the Rangers. New York lost 2-1 in overtime to Detroit on Wednesday night.

Chicago wraps up a three-game home stand tonight. They’ll head west for games in Arizona and San Jose beginning Thursday night.

The two teams meet for a second and final time this season, in New York, on March 18.

Rangers take the positives out of OT loss to Red Wings

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The New York Rangers were busy in the hours leading to the NHL trade deadline, selling future assets to land players — specifically Keith Yandle — who can make an impact right away, as they look to get back to the Stanley Cup Final.

And you can certainly debate this “all-in” mentality, weighing the cost of trying to go for it all now and selling prospects and draft picks — including a first-round selection — to do so.

But as of Wednesday, the Rangers, even without Henrik Lundqvist in goal, are challenging for the Metropolitan Division and could once again go on a long run in the post-season.

On Wednesday, they lost 2-1 in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings. Marek Zidlicky, making his debut for the Red Wings after being a trade deadline acquisition, scored on the power play for the win, with Derek Stepan in the penalty box for a hold.

The single point puts the Rangers in a tie with the rival New York Islanders for tops in the Metropolitan. They’re fighting, too, for top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Rangers outshot the Red Wings 40-31, forcing Jimmy Howard to make 39 saves. In terms of puck possession, New York dominated for the most part, with 61 shot attempts compared to 50 for Detroit, according to hockeystats.ca.

The Rangers decided to take the positives out of this one.

“I liked the way we played, especially in the second period,” Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault told NHL.com. “Unfortunately, we got a penalty late, and they were able to score in overtime.”

“…Play like this every night, we have a good chance of winning,” Mats Zuccarello told Andrew Gross of The Record.

There could be promising news on the horizon for New York’s goaltending situation, too. Cam Talbot, who has been solid since taking over the starting duties for an injured Lundqvist, could be back in the back-up role when the Swedish netminder comes back.

Lundqvist has been skating on his own and could return in 10 to 14 days, according to Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie.